Aug. 29, 1997
Irish Await Home Opener
NOTRE DAME, Ind. -- The preseason second-ranked Notre Dame's women's soccer team opens the 1997 season with a pair of Alumni Field home games. The Irish open against BIG EAST opponent St. John's on Friday at 7:30 and then play host to Michigan State on Sunday at 1:00 p.m.
Scouting the '97 Irish: Notre Dame opens its 10th season of women's soccer with perhaps its deepest and most talented team ever to take the field. Heading up this group is senior three-time All-American Holly Manthei (Burnsville, Minn.), the all-time college women's soccer all-time leader in single-season and career assists. Joining Manthei in the midfield will be freshman Anne Makinen (Helsinki, Finland), an internationally experienced player who has played over 40 games with Finnish national team. Junior Shannon Boxx (Torrance, Calif.) will be the player the Irish play the ball to in the air. Sophomore Kara Brown (Avon, Conn.) looks to build on the solid play she showed during the 1996 NCAA tournament. Junior Laura Vanderberg (Kalamazoo, Mich.) will give the Irish depth in the midfield.
Up front, the Irish forwards are more talented than ever, led by 1996 BIG EAST rookie of the year Jenny Streiffer (Baton Rouge, La.). The team's top returning scorer, Streiffer was equally adept at distributing or putting the ball on goal with 22 goals and 22 assists as a freshman. Junior Monica Gerardo (Simi Valley, Calif.) returns her explosive goal-scoring ability to the lineup with 43 goals in just 51 career games. Through two seasons at Notre Dame, she is on pace to become the all-time leading goal scorer in Irish history. National Soccer Coaches Association of America high school player of the year Meotis Erikson (Kennewick, Wash.) will give the Irish another proficient scorer up front. Sophomore Jenny Heft (Germantown, Wis.), with 12 goals and 12 assists last year, will spark the Irish off the bench once again. Freshman Monica Gonzalez (Richardson, Texas) gives Notre Dame another talented forward off the bench.
Defensively, Notre Dame will field its most athletic backfield in history. Senior three-time All-American Kate Sobrero (Bloomfield Hills, Mich.) headlines the defense for the fourth-straight year. Sophomore Jen Grubb (Hoffman Estates, Ill.) returns after her play at sweeper earned her All-America honors, the only freshman defender in the country to be awarded. Freshman Kelly Lindsey (Omaha, Neb.) has stepped in during the preseason practice to win the final defender spot. Sophomore Mary Boener (Orting, Wash.) has developed into a solid backup defender.
Notre Dame will look to sophomore LaKeysia Beene (Gold River, Calif.) to take over the goalkeeping duties. Her athleticism and great reflexes should enable Beene to emerge as one of the best goalkeepers in the country.
1996 Review: The Irish capped off the 1996 season with their third straight trip to the NCAA championship game, the longest current streak in the country. After winning the 1995 NCAA title with a 1-0 overtime win over Portland, Notre Dame saw its fortunes reversed with a 1-0 overtime loss to North Carolina in the 1996 final. With a school-record 24 wins, the Irish finished the regular season as the top-ranked team in the country for the second time in three years. Notre Dame held the top spot in the rankings for more than half of the year for the final six weeks of the season after a 2-1 overtime win over previously top-ranked North Carolina.
Notre Dame's success was recognized in the post-season as seniors Cindy Daws and Jen Renola were honored with player-of-the-year awards. Daws claimed the Hermann Trophy and the Missouri Athletic Club award while Renola was named NSCAA player of the year. Renola also was awards the BIG EAST scholar athlete of the year, the GTE/CoSIDA Fall/Winter Academic All-American of the Year and to the NCAA Today's Top VIII.
Irish Spark Under-20 Team to Nordic Cup Title: Two of the five Notre Dame players on the United States under-20 national team Nordic Cup roster played key roles in helping the U.S. claim the title on Aug. 8, in Denmark. Streiffer scored a sudden-death overtime goal at the 106th minutes of the gold medal match to give the Americans a 1-0 win over Norway. Streiffer did not enter the game until the 98th minute and took advantage of her rest to score just eight minutes later. Despite not starting in any of the Americans' four games in the Nordic Cup, Streiffer finished second on the team in scoring with two goals and two assists for six points.
Beene played the entire game in net and may have been the player of the game, making six saves, including two goal-saving stops. In the 12th minute, she flew backward to tip a Norwegian shot off the cross bar and later smothered a breakaway in the 37th minutes. Beene recorded three shutouts as she started all four games.
Beene was aided by defenders Sobrero and Grubb, who played the entire 106 minutes of the final. In the 1996 Nordic Cup, Grubb scored in sudden death overtime to give the U.S. the bronze medal. Erikson joined her future teammates on the team as the youngest player on the Nordic Cup roster
Notre Dame Favored For Third BIG EAST Title: Notre Dame's two-time defending BIG EAST women's soccer champion has been unanimously selected to win its third title, according to the preseason coaches' poll. The Irish received a maximum of 121 points while Connecticut was picked to finish second. Rutgers, Syracuse and Boston College round out the top five. Notre Dame and Connecticut have battled it out for the title both years that the Irish have competed in the BIG EAST Conference and 1997 looks to be similar.
In 1995, Connecticut defeated the Irish 5-4 in overtime in the regular season but Notre Dame won 1-0 in the BIG EAST championship finals and 2-0 in the NCAA quarterfinals. In 1996, the Irish traveled to Connecticut won 2-1 in the regular season and used another one-goal 4-3 win in the BIG EAST title game. Connecticut travels to Notre Dame on Oct. 26 in the next meeting between the two teams in the 1997 regular season.
The BIG EAST will be 12 teams strong in 1997 with the addition of Pittsburgh and Syracuse for 1997. The top four teams in the conference will advance to the BIG EAST championship at Yurek Field at Rutgers with the semifinals to be held November 7, and the champion to be crowned on November 9.
Manthei Tops Among Returning Midfielders: Senior midfielder Holly Manthei enters her final season after collecting the most votes for the 1996 Missouri Athletic Club player of the year award of any returning midfielder in the country. She is also the only active player who was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy in both 1995 and 1996. Manthei has used her pinpoint corner kicks and speedy runs down the left sideline to create and assist on 95 goals in her three-year career, including 44 in 1996, both college soccer records formerly held by national team member and gold medalist Mia Hamm. Manthei's 10 assists in just 13 career NCAA championship games breaks another of Hamm's records, and her five in the 1996 NCAA tournament ties teammate Kara Brown for NCAA single-tournament record.
Head Coach Chris Petrucelli: 1996 BIG EAST coach of the year Chris Petrucelli enters his eighth season as head coach of Notre Dame's women's soccer team after leading the Irish to their third straight NCAA championship game. Petrucelli was named NSCAA coach of the year for the second consecutive year after guiding Notre Dame to its first NCAA women's soccer title in 1995, becoming the first coach to win the honor two straight years. The Orange, N.J. native owns a 131-18-8 record with an .860 winning percentage that is second best among NCAA Division I women's soccer coaches. During his seven seasons as head coach, Petrucelli has coaches his players to 17 NSCAA All-America selections, including 14 since 1994, the most in the country.
This Week for the Irish: Notre Dame's opens its 10th season of varsity women's soccer with a pair of home games against St. John's on Friday at 7:30 p.m., and Michigan State on Sunday at 1:00 p.m. The Irish and the Red Storm have met twice previously with Notre Dame winning both games, 9-0 in 1995 at Alumni Field and 6-0 in 1996 in Jamaica, N.Y.
Michigan State is the only team Notre Dame has played every year since women's soccer began at Notre Dame in 1988. The Irish dropped a pair of 3-0 games to the Spartans in 1988 and 1989 but have won the last seven meetings in the 1990s. In the most recent meeting, Michigan State broke a 1-1 halftime score with two goals in the first three minutes of the second half to build a 3-1 lead before Notre Dame rallied for a 5-3 win with three goals in the final 15 minutes of the game.
Irish Go For 28 Vs. Big Ten: Since that 3-0 loss to Michigan State on Sept. 22, 1989, Notre Dame has won 27th straight games against teams from the Big Ten Conference. Petrucelli is a perfect 25-0-0 against the Big Ten.